Writer John is Streets ahead of rest

Date published: 20 November 2008

A FORMER Oldham Evening Chronicle journalist who became one of the best writers on “Coronation Street” has scooped a top award.

John Stevenson (71) won the Royal Television Society’s North-West Judge’s Award for his career as a scriptwriter which has spanned more than 40 years.

Manchester-born Mr Stevenson, who lived in Shaw and Saddleworth during his Chronicle days, was a “Coronation Street” scriptwriter from 1976 to 2006.

Mr Stevenson, who lives in Heald Green, said: “I’m very proud to receive something like that as it came out of the blue.

“It’s a bit like getting a good conduct medal in the army.”

Mr Stevenson attended St Paul’s School, Scouthead, and Werneth Junior School, before studying at Manchester Grammar School and gaining a B.Sc in economics from the London School of Economics.

He worked at the Chronicle from 1958 to 1964 where he wrote the popular Fifth Column under the name Richard Steele.

Mr Stevenson said: “The early Sixties was an age of great satire — it was the first time you could have fun with politicians so writing the column was great fun.

“Journalism was a very different world back then — you knew if you left one job you would somehow get another. And in television, people were not afraid of trying out new ideas and have them fail.”

After six years at the Chronicle, Mr Stevenson joined the Daily Mail in Manchester as its Northern showbusiness reporter, and spent his evenings reviewing theatre productions while writing scripts.

He has produced over 600 scripts for shows such as “Nearest and Dearest”, “How’s Your Father”, “Oh! Doctor Beaching” and, with “Coronation Street” scriptwriter Julian Roach in the 1980s, the comedy drama, “Brass”.

Mr Stevenson also penned episodes for “Heartbeat”, “The Grimleys” and “Crown Court”, as well as the January, 2000, “Coronation Street” special edition featuring only the characters Raquel and Curly Watts.

His latest project is a stage play based on “Coronation Street” characters which is set to premiere in Canada next year.